What Are the Best Retro Handheld Consoles for Adults? (Discover!)

Variety of retro gaming handheld consoles placed next to each other

Gaming is considered among the most popular socially cultured facets and a source of immense entertainment in present-day reality. However, gaming had established its strong appeal and flourished with flying colors even in the early days, evidently in the 80s and 90s.

It’s no wonder why many adults in modern-day society have grown up being fans of gaming from their childhood days, and it’s always a pleasure to relive that childhood experience, promoting a sense of nostalgia.

Therefore, it’s fair to claim that there’s still a huge desire to play retro games to this date, and there’s no valid reason not to revisit those old games and feel excited to do so. With that said, there are a handful of retro handheld gaming consoles that thrive well among the retro gaming community and even those wanting to explore retro-styled games.

In this article, I’ll discuss some of the best retro handheld gaming consoles for adults and dig deep into the reasons why they are worth playing to this day!

In general, the following is a list of a few of the most reliable and highly admirable retro handheld consoles:

  • Steam Deck.
  • Nintendo Switch Lite.
  • RG35XX.
  • Retroid Pocket Flip.

So, without further ado, let’s start!

What Are the Prominent Features of the Best Retro Handheld Consoles for Adults?

The following is a short data table that gathers and summarizes the major facets that make a retro handheld good enough to be worth a purchase.

Name of the Handheld DeviceYear of Release PricePerformance
Steam Deck2022Ranges from $400 to above $600, depending on the model.Extremely versatile and powerful.
Nintendo Switch Lite2019$199.99Fairly versatile.
RG35XX2022$79.99Excellent performance in various areas for a lower price.
Retroid Pocket Flip2023$164.50Improved performance experience compared to previous versions.
The above table represents some important data when considering choosing among the best retro handheld devices.

However, it’s worthwhile to mention here that this is just a short list of handheld consoles. There’s indeed a very wide market, but we will consider the best-selling ones.

Steam Deck

Steam Deck is easily considered to be one of the best handheld emulators out there due to its immense ease of accessibility, enhanced reliability, and housing a Steam Library, which gives access to a very large number of games at your fingertips.

It has a 7-inch screen, giving an enriched gaming experience, and storage of up to 256 and 512 GB worth of memory, depending on the model, along with an extremely powerful processor. It’s known for its compatibility with almost any kind of game you wish to play, either directly from Steam Library or getting to install it.

Adding to this, it comes up with Linux, which can emulate a wide range of retro games with amazing performance and run them smoothly, without any glitches and germane issues, and is fairly easy to set up.

Though it is a little pricey, the cost is worth the highly innovative device, giving you the blissful opportunity to play old-timed classic games!

A handheld emulator.
A Nintendo Switch Lite, a handheld emulator.

Nintendo Switch Lite

Nintendo Switch Lite is one of the most improved versions of the Nintendo products, with the welcome updation to Joy-Con controllers, increasing its flexibility at an affordable price.

It’s a lower-cost handheld console offering you a versatile gaming experience.

Comprising of the 5.5-inch screen, 32 GB battery, and Tetra core processor, it has a profound ability to run your favorite retro games efficiently and is also quite pocket-friendly.

The size of this handheld emulator is quite compact, which is why it’s the best choice for gaming sessions on the go.

This makes it a highly competitive and appealing handheld console best for retro gaming in the market.

Handheld emulator console.
A mini version of a handheld emulator, compact in size and portable on the go.


RG35XX is a small yet powerful handheld emulator, similar to the very old Gameboy, with pre-loaded games and no mandatory requisites to set up the ROMs for the games.

The small screen of 3.5 inches and a high amount of storage, i.e., 64 GB, make it both user and pocket-friendly, incessantly portable, and reliable to use on the go. You can easily hold it, as it has a smaller screen and lesser weight, which are the most appealing attributes for buyers.

It has a few tool buttons for the games to be played, with an extremely cost-effective price of $80, with the best retro game emulation in the smoothest way ever!

A handheld video gaming device named Retroid Flip.
Clamshell designed, The Retroid Pocket Flip.

Retroid Pocket Flip

The Retroid Pocket Flip is owned by GoRetroid, which is an updated version of its predecessor Retroid Pocket 3+, with a few additional and improved features, giving you a seamless gaming experience.

Equipped with 4GB RAM, a 5000mAh battery, and a UNISOC Tiger T618 octa-core processor, it’s a good option to get your hands on at the best bet!

It has an excellent screen resolution with improved responsiveness, quicker processing times, and great compatibility, with a long-lasting battery.

Also, it can run and emulate a wide variety of retro games such as Gameboy, PS1, PSP, and Dreamcast games, though other games are not preloaded, and it’s on you to install them after setting it up.

Lastly, it has a clamshell design, which is nostalgic for gaming enthusiasts and allows them to play many of the classic games using this handheld emulator with no biggie!

You can find out more by watching the guide video above.
A handheld emulator.
The production of newer and improved handheld emulators has been on the popularity rise for decades.

What Are the World’s Best-Selling Handheld Consoles Over the Years?

Since we have covered a topic discussing those handheld consoles that can play absolutely any retro game you wish to revisit, it’s often a question that pops up among gaming enthusiasts regarding what consoles have been the most popular and the best-selling over the course of so many years.

The answer is the Nintendo DS, with a total sales of over 154 million worldwide. It’s ranked top in the list of best-selling handheld consoles over the years.

If we talk about the 90s, Gameboy was the most sold one, with over 118 million units, all across the globe. Along with Gameboy Advance, it featured a large list of games to play, such as Legend of Zelda and Pokémon, which are considered to be OG retro games and are still loved and admired by adults.

Then came the one and only legendary gaming emulator, PSP, developed by Sony, hitting the highest pinnacle of success back in the 2000s and gave rise to games like Grand Theft Auto, which is every gamer’s top favorite game. It easily earned over 80 million-selling units.

However, it’s fair to claim that when it comes to handheld consoles, Nintendo has earned a great reputation from the very start in developing some of the best ones and is still ranked as the all-time favorite. Their emulators are very competitive in the market to this day!


  • Retro gaming is still on the popularity rise as it has a huge fanbase, mainly modern-day adults, as they have the instinct to relieve their childhood gaming experience.
  • There are many renowned and highly admiral retro handheld gaming consoles; some of the best ones include Steam Deck, Nintendo Switch Lite, RG35XX, and Retroid Pocket Flip.
  • The mentioned handheld emulators have their own prominent features equipped with advanced upgrades over the others and can run a wide range of retro games, which are all-time favorites for adults today.
  • There are a number of best-selling handheld consoles over the course of decades, such as Gameboy and Gameboy Advance, Nintendo DS, and PSP, earning millions of sales, setting a benchmark in their sales record.

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